Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Birthday to My First Sweetheart

Today is the date on which Errol Flynn was born in Tasmania in 1909. He grew up to become one of Hollywood's most famous leading men, partially because of his reputation as a bon vivant and womanizer, and partly because of his acting ability. Flynn could say a lot with his eyes, which is why I fell in love with him in the 70s, as a little girl watching FAMILY CLASSICS on Sunday afternoons (hosted by Frazier Thomas--anyone else watch that show?). It was on FAMILY CLASSICS that they showed Robin Hood over and over again, and I fell in love with Flynn at his swashbuckling best: sword fighting with the evil Basil Rathbone, wooing Olivia DeHaviland, the gentle Maid Marian; or hunting game on the king's grounds and then carrying in his deer carcass and slamming it right down on the dining table of the king's perfidious brother John.

Ah, that Errol Flynn could really hurl a deer carcass in a way to win a little girl's heart. My mother, watching with a stern expression while she did her knitting, told me that Errol Flynn was too MUCH of a heartbreaker, that was his problem. But I think she liked him too, falling captive to the Flynn charm that is captured forever on film even though Flynn lived for only fifty years.

4 comments:

Liz Clifford said...

You said it! It is hard to beat a man in tights, especially Errol Flynn.

If you haven't read BRING ON THE EMPTY HORSES and THE BALLOON'S A MOON by David Niven, I highly recommend them. If I remember rightly, Niven shared a house in Hollywood with Errol Flynn - the house was named Cirrhosis by the Sea - and recounts some of their adventures together. Delightfully scandalous.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks for the tip, Liz! I've not read too much Hollywood lore, but I do like David Niven. I'm sure his private life was crazy, but onscreen he always seemed quite the opposite of Errol: staid, dignified, stiff-upper-lip Niven.

John Dandola said...

Flynn was not only the quintessential swashbuckler but he was a damn fine actor (if only he had taken himself seriously). Since childhood, he has remained one of my all-time favorites. Something so obvious that my friends have always referred to him as "your uncle Errol." Flynn's posthumously published autobiography is entitled (quite appropriately) MY WICKED, WICKED WAYS. In the past few decades, some have come to claim that much of it may not be true -- which entirely misses the point. If only a fraction of it is true (and David Niven's books corroborate much of it), he was a Hollywood force with which to be reckoned. My favorite Niven quote about his dear friend: "You always knew where you stood with Errol because he always let you down." Happy Birthday, dear uncle...

Julia Buckley said...

That's hilarious! And just what do you and Errol have in common? :)

I may have to look into that book. People become legends for a reason.